There is uncertainty on the request for an extension of the first meeting of the 47th Session of Parliament that the opposition made.
Yesterday, Treasury was elusive on the matter when contacted, but sources said since the request was made on Tuesday nothing has come out.
Representatives of opposition political parties in Parliament’s Business Committee asked for an extension of the current meeting of the National Assembly to allow more time for debate and processing of the Electoral Reforms Bills.
The current meeting is set to wind up business next Friday after five weeks of deliberations.
Asked on progress made on the request, assistant Clerk of Parliament (CoP) responsible for protocol and public relations Leonard Mengezi referred the matter to Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa.
He said: “That request was done in the Business Committee. So, I don’t see how formal it should be. But I have not been informed of any result, perhaps check with the Leader of the House [Nankhumwa] because government will come out clear on the matter through his office.”
But Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, did not pick up his phone yesterday. However, he told The Nation in an earlier interview that he needed more time to consult on the request.
On his part, Treasury spokesperson Davis Sado said the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development would review the request and advise accordingly.
He said: “There are procedures which we follow in terms of such requests so when the request is on the table we will review and advise accordingly because we are just a ministry and our role is to provide resources.”
Government spends about K200 million on average for members of Parliament to meet for debate for a week, according to Nankhumwa.
The opposition MPs requested for the extension arguing that the three bills government said were ready to be presented in Parliament were less significant compared to those that were not ready in terms of 2019 elections.
The three bills include Electoral Commission Act (Amendment), Referendum and the Transitional Arrangement.
However, the most contentious of the bills relate to the amendment of Section 80 (2) of the Constitution and Section 96 (5) of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (PPE) Act to provide a change of the electoral system from simple majority to a majority of more than 50 percent in the presidential race. n